570 North High Street Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 453-1585
Going to work never quite feels like going to work for restaurant owner George Psaras. But when your office is Sushi Rock, the newest resident of the Short North’s Cap—where flat screens adorn the walls of every room, DJs are regularly spinning tunes and ridiculously fresh sushi abounds—“going to work” takes on a different meaning. The ambitious owner of the newest Sushi Rock graduated from OSU with full intentions to return to Columbus—and after filling the role of GM at the chain’s two Cleveland locations, he’s back with reins in hand of the third fine-dining restaurant in the Sushi Rock family.
On the menu: sushi and steak, of course. And that’s sushi flown in daily from Hawaii and USDA prime steaks, which make for cuisine that showcases the highest quality of both the surf and turf worlds. Though nearly half of the menu is designed for those who might not care for sushi, when fish has traveled over 5,000 miles in one day, from Hawaii to Columbus, even those who have snubbed raw fish in the past should have trouble turning down Sushi Rock’s edible art. The name itself alludes to the duality of the menu: Sushi Rock comes from the saying, “Sushi of the sea, rock of the Earth.”
With a conspicuous location on the Cap, Sushi Rock is impossible to miss and an alluring addition to the ShoNo’s nightlife shortlist. The interior design was an expensive production by Design Collective and blends influences from South Beach, Los Angeles and New York City. A series of large rooms can be left open or closed off, contributing to a simultaneously private, yet spacious vibe. It’s sleek and sexy, masculine, but not intimidating.
The sushi chefs, whom Psaras touts as some of the best in the country, are on display at an elevated round sushi bar that is the focal point of the interior. The interior itself is very cosmopolitan, making any diner feel like a trendsetter.
Sushi Rock opened in late September 2009, after the exterior and interior of the corner location—where Paul Liu’s Chinese Restaurant and Bluefish Seafood once lived—received an elaborate revamp. A full bar stretches the length of the front of the restaurant, facing North High Street. To complement late night drinks, the full kitchen stays open after traditional dining hours, along with late night sushi service. After January 1, 2010, they’ll begin offering lunch.
The brains at Sushi Rock created a menu that is as chic as all other facets of the restaurant. Fruit plays a contributing factor in many of the sushi rolls, and the visual presentation commands attention.
We began with a standard starter course: calamari. The Sushi Rock Calamari is lightly breaded and fried, and gently doused in a sweet and spicy sauce. We suggest this dish to satiate late night hunger at the bar, perhaps with a cold Sapporo in hand.
Presented to us next was a culinary piece of architecture that seems to defy gravity: the Spicy Tuna Napoleon. A three-layered tower constructed of a base of sushi rice, followed by a thick sheet of avocado and topped generously with spicy tuna tartar, might have been the star of the evening—and it’s only an appetizer. This dish proves there are no duds on the menu.
Two dishes in, and we already knew they could do sushi right, but they had yet to prove the carnivorous half of the menu. We dug into the Filet Mignon. Ten ounces of tender beef did not last long between our small party. It was a simple test that confirmed they’ve mastered the steak and sushi combo.
There’s no better way to sample the best selection of sashimi than with the Chirasi: the Chef’s Sashimi Assortment. Our platter consisted of salmon, tuna, yellow tail and shrimp. In an unusual twist, salmon nigirizushi was topped with a thin ribbon of tuna sashimi.
We sampled three of the restaurant’s generously sized rolls. Each will cut to eight pieces and can be made with white or brown rice. The Golden Dragon Roll was packed with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, salmon, crab and avocado, and topped with a slice of mango and a sprinkle of masago. The Pretty Woman Roll combined smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese and kiwi. The Lobster Roll provided a generous chunk of lobster tail, romaine lettuce, cucumber, sprouts and oshinko
And for dessert: Bread Pudding à la Mode and a Bohemian Martini. The bread pudding is thick and sturdy, topped with vanilla ice cream and slivers of strawberry. The Bohemian, one of Sushi Rock’s signature martinis, is a refreshing blend of St. Germain liqueur, fresh sour and champagne. But do try their “rocktails,” as well. With spunky names like Brand New Cadillac and John Daly, they’ve gotta taste as good as they are fun.